Nick Baumgartner

Nick Baumgartner earns Olympic spot over Seth Wescott

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Nick Baumgartner cried. A fourth-grade class at Stambaugh Elementary School screamed.

Baumgartner was named to his second U.S. Olympic Team on Friday, beating out two-time Olympic champion Seth Wescott for the final spot on the men’s snowboard cross team going to Sochi.

U.S. coaches told Baumgartner he had been selected at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo., after he and Wescott were eliminated in the quarterfinals Friday afternoon.

Baumgartner then called Stambaugh Elementary in Iron River, Mich., where he was connected to his 9-year-old son, Landon, to spread the word.

“I was crying,” Baumgartner said. “Losing it.”

He quickly got a call back from the school, which wanted confirmation because Landon was being coy about the news. Baumgartner obliged, and he could hear the classroom’s reaction on the other end of the line.

It capped a stressful two weeks for Baumgartner, who was the top U.S. rider not to earn automatic qualification onto the Olympic Team during the World Cup season.

Three other men did, leaving one spot for the U.S. team to fill as a discretionary selection with either Baumgartner or Wescott, who was coming back from April ACL surgery.

Wescott finished 49th and 31st in his first two races back two weeks ago, but was thought to still be a Sochi candidate given he’s the only Olympic champion men’s snowboard cross has ever known.

The Winter X Games were seen as a last chance for both riders to impress selectors.

Wescott competed in Friday’s quarterfinals first, finishing fifth where the top three advanced. Baumgartner watched Wescott’s race at the top of the hill on a TV screen, cheering for him. He admires Wescott, but at the same time seeing the result put him at ease.

Ten minutes later, Baumgartner set out on his quarterfinal and also finished fifth. He was dissatisfied with his performance in the immediate aftermath, but, after making the Olympic Team, said he felt good overall.

“I was happy with my riding again here,” Baumgartner said. “I thought I rode really well, really smart and going for it. That’s what it takes to win.”

Baumgartner was still teary eyed from talking to his son when he made eye contact with Wescott for the first time after the Olympic announcement.

“[Wescott] came up, gave me a big hug and said congrats,” Baumgartner said. “He’s a role model for me. I think he should be for everyone.”

In 2010, Baumgartner accomplished his goal of making the Olympic Team. His sights are set higher this year, given he’s won X Games gold and silver since the Vancouver Games.

“Half the goal was to make the team,” Baumgartner said. “Now my goal is winning a medal and bringing it back to Michigan.”

Baumgartner joins Alex DeiboldNate Holland and Trevor Jacob on the men’s Olympic Team. The women’s team has not been announced yet, but it will include Lindsey Jacobellis and at most two more riders.

Wescott, 37, has said he will continue to compete with an eye on the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. He would be the oldest snowboarder in Olympic history if he’s able to do so.

Jacobellis breaks X Games record

Adam Nelson’s comeback to continue at Olympic Trials

Adam Nelson
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Adam Nelson, the 2004 Olympic shot put champion, plans to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials six days shy of his 41st birthday.

Nelson, who has worked for NBC Sports, confirmed an ESPN.com report Tuesday that he has entered the trials.

In 2012, Nelson failed to qualify for the Olympic Trials final and retired.

“I just hope that when people think about me and my career, they see, one, that you can do this for a long time, there is a right way to do it,” an emotional Nelson told reporters then. “That when you do it the right way and you do it every single day, the hard work pays off time and time again. You’re going to have bad days, you’re going to have good days. But on balance you’re going to have more good days than bad days. I hope people that see that. The bottom line is, at the end of the day, if you don’t love it, don’t do it.”

Nelson’s comeback was first reported last summer.

He competed for the first time since missing the London Olympic team on April 30, throwing 20.48 meters, according to Tilastopaja.org. That ranks him outside the top 25 in the world this year and ninth among Americans.

It is just shy of the USA Track and Field automatic qualifying standard of 20.50 for the Olympic Trials, but athletes below the standard can be invited based on performance rank to compete at trials.

In May 2013, Nelson was elevated from 2004 Olympic silver to gold by the International Olympic Committee after Ukraine’s Yuriy Bilonog was stripped of it for doping. The Athens Olympic shot put competition was memorable given it was held at the Ancient Olympic site of Olympia.

In June 2013, Nelson was given a victory ceremony at the USA Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. A wreath was placed on his head, as every medalist at the 2004 Olympics received. He listened to the national anthem play. He took a victory lap with an American flag around the track.

The next month, Nelson received his gold medal at an Atlanta airport food court, reportedly at a table in front of a Chinese restaurant.

MORE: Joe Kovacs’ emergence from family tragedy, Olympic miss to world leader

Race walker holds his own medal ceremony after Russia doping (video)

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Australian race walker Jared Tallent wasted no time after Tuesday’s report listing eight Russian Olympic track and field medalists suspected of doping during the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Tallent starred in a do-it-yourself medal ceremony, receiving the Daegu 2011 World Championships gold medal for the 50km race walk. There was no announcer, there was no national anthem and the medal wasn’t the official Daegu version, but the motivation was clear.

Tallent originally finished third in the 2011 Worlds 50km race walk. One of the Russians named Tuesday — Denis Nizhegorodov — finished second. Another Russian, Sergey Bakulin, finished first, but his result was previously disqualified for doping.

That would leave Tallent the champion, which could be made official later this year pending Nizhegorodov’s B sample from 2008 and more processes.

Tallent is already in line to be upgraded from silver to gold in the 2012 Olympic 50km race walk due to Russian doping. There will be a more formal ceremony for Tallent to receive his Olympic gold, on June 17 in Melbourne.

MORE: Russia track and field federation says no past dopers on Rio Olympic team